Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:37 AM ET
The formula seems simple enough: take two well-heeled Hollywood types, buy a vineyard in the south of France and, voilà, a wine star is born. At least that was the plan.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt threw their hats into the ring with a rosé, the 2012 Chateau Miraval Côtes de Provence. They follow in the footsteps of a long line of actors and athletes, rock stars and race car drivers to try their hands in the vineyard. The first 6,000 bottles sold out hours after going on sale. And the wine was still tough to get even after Whole Foods and others started carrying it.
Now that the hype has died down, Miraval is much easier to get. But is it worth it? I paid $24 for it at a discount wine store here in New York, where it was the second most expensive rosé of 37 I counted on the shelves.
Miraval comes in an unusual bottle bearing a small, medallion-like label, both aimed at making the wine stand out, which it did lined up in the middle of a long row of rosés from all over the world.
The Miraval estate is cultivated organically, and the rosé is a blend of grapes – the red cinsault, grenache and syrah and the white rolle, also known as vermentino. I bought the wine along with two other rosés from the south of France with the aim of tasting them in a blind comparison.
One was a $13 wine from Bordeaux, the other a $9 rosé from the Costières de Nimes, also in southern France. I marked the bottles and the bottoms of three glasses with identifying numbers, poured the wines, and then mixed up the glasses so I wouldn’t know which wine I tasted.
The results? I quickly eliminated what turned out to be the rosé from Bordeaux because it had a strange and unpleasant aroma, indicating the wine was corked.
Of the other two, I preferred Chateau de Campuget's 2012 Costières de Nimes, a grenache-syrah blend and, yes, the $9 wine. I found it brighter and more refreshing than the Jolie-Pitt wine and l liked its more fruity character with notes of cherry and orange. It may not have been the most exciting rosé I've tasted this summer but it was crisp and easy to drink -- exactly what I want in a rosé. It was also the better of the two wines with our roasted herbed chicken dinner.
The Miraval is a more nuanced wine with a richer mouth feel and a longer finish. The fruit is muted -- too much so, with barely a hint of cherry, along with an herb note and a good deal of vanilla creaminess. It's more of a wine to swirl around and to contemplate, which, for me, misses the point of rosés.
And yet, if it’s a celebrity vintage you desire and are willing to pay a price for fame in a bottle, Miraval might be for you. At least you’ll get to say you had dinner, so to speak, with Brad and Angelina. I’ll go back to the many excellent, affordable rosés I’ve reviewed recently, which you can read about here and here and here.